Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Why My Third Husband will be a Dog by Lisa Scottoline

I have a confession to make.   Until fairly recently, although I knew about Lisa Scottoline's books, I had never read any of them.   It wasn't that they didn't sound good -- it was just that I never seemed to get around to them.  However, I was at a conference a few months back and had an opportunity to hear Ms. Scottoline say a few words (actually, as part of a group of authors at a tea.   Yes, a tea.  With little sandwiches).   At any rate-- she was so funny, and so likeable, that I found myself really wanting to read her books.     And then, I forgot again, no doubt because I was distracted by the shiny new books on the library's display shelves.

I did, however, see that she had a new book out, a series of essays, and it sounded good.   So, I put a hold on our library's copy, and then promptly forgot about the book until it came in for me the other day.    And then I read it.   I started it while I was in bed, thinking it would make for good before-sleep reading.   This was a mistake on my part, because I was laughing so hard right away that I knew that it would keep me awake.  So, I read for a while, and laughed a lot, and then put it down.  Until I was up at 3:00 am ... picked it up, and finished it.    The book lasted about a day.    And now, I'm going to go to the library and find her other books and check them out.    And I'll be looking up her column in the Philadelphia Inquirer, too.

Just goes to show you --- sometimes, an opportunity to hear an author can be a really wonderful thing, even if you don't know all of their books (or any of them, as it was in this case).    If you ever have an opportunity to see Lisa Scottoline speak, got for it --- she's very cool, and very funny (and really smart, too).    And this book is great.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Secret Santa Loot!!!!

I got a nice surprise this afternoon when the mail came --- a nice little box from my secret santa blogger!   Carol very sweetly sent me 3 books (see picture) -- a Meg Cabot book I haven't read, and 2 more books that I haven't read, or even heard of!   So, 3 nice things to read and discover during these cold weeks!   Thank you Carol!!!     I know I didn't give a lot of information when I signed up for the Secret Santa blogger exchange thingie -- so if I do it again next year, I promise to be better, like the person I sent stuff to was.   :)

Happy Holidays!!!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Happy Holidays!

It's been an interesting few days ----  we have a nice layer of ice on everything outside right now, and it's been raining on and off (which is always helpful for adding more layers of ice......).   One of our bunnies wasn't feeling well, so we got to take him to the vet yesterday (we're thinking positive -- he seems to be feeling much better since they took care of a few tooth spurs).   Hopefully, the roads will get better, and dinner will turn out tonight.

Merry Christmas!   

Monday, December 21, 2009

Angelology by Danielle Trussoni

I received a galley of this book as part of the Flight of Fiction from Viking Books (and thank you very much!).   I needed to take a break from reading paranormal books for a December book challenge, so I started on this.    The basic premise is that there is an ongoing, 1000-year conflict between the Society of Angelologists and the Nephilim, who are the descendents of angels and humans.   I think most people think of angels as being nice, beautiful beings, but the Nephilim are very strong, and not very nice, and they'd like to rule the world (thus, the struggle).   Sister Evangeline discovers a cache of letters from Abigail Rockefeller, the famous philanthropist, and someone named Celestine, whom she suspects is really Sister Celestine.   It turns out that Evangeline's discovery brings her into the path of some very dangerous people, and also brings her further into the world of the angelologists and the treasure they have been protecting for years.

Sounds a little like Dan Brown doing his bit on angels, but it's really quite good.   There's really an interesting premise here, and the author does such a wonderful job of not only developing the characters, but also building the story, and the suspense.   Evangeline is a complex character, enhanced by the other characters in the book, who are, for the most part, equally fascinating.   I found the pacing to be pretty fast, but maybe that was because I got caught up in the book and just needed to know what happened next.   I also enjoyed how I felt like I was learning things in the book (which reminded me a little of Dan Brown, but nowhere near as lecturing and annoying).    And, actually, I had a moment of remembering a movie called The Prophet, which had Christopher Walken as Gabriel.....   not a very good movie, but something in it has stuck with me all this time.   One of the main characters is talking about angels and says how, what if, instead of wonderful things, they were actually quite fearsome -- after all, some of them do the more horrific work for God -- and he says something about how it would be, to always have one wing dipped in blood.    As I said, not a great movie (although it's worth it just to see Viggo Mortensen as Lucifer), but the whole idea of the scary, intimidating, and fearsome angel has stuck with me ever since.

Trussoni's writing is very smooth, and the idea here in this book is very well developed.   I took my time reading it because there were a lot of details to catch, but also because it was a pleasure to read.    According to what I've found, this book is due out in March 2010, and I expect there will be some buzz about it (hopefully!)

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Saving CeeCee Honeycutt

Viking Books very nicely sent me a package of books, so I'm now working my way through them. Finished Beth Hoffman's Saving CeeCee Honeycutt last week, a coming of age story that reminded me a little of Secret Life of Bees. Short summary: At age 12, CeeCee's mother passes away (which, although tragic, is almost a blessing, considering how strange her behavior was getting) and she is taken in by an aunt who lives in Savannah. Aunt Tallulah (Tootie) and her housekeeper, Oletta, are great characters, and CeeCee is very well written, herself. I enjoyed this book and found it a smooth read, typical of good Southern storytelling. Does make me wish I could visit Savannah at some point (although I'm sure it has changed since the story, which takes place in 1967). Uncomplicated, but a nice read, especially when it's snowing outside.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Gorging on Books

I don't know what I was thinking, but I agreed to rise to the challenge of a YA paranormal reading challenge set up by a few people at my library. Not that I don't read paranormal, but I already had a list of books I wanted to get to this month..... but I have been happily steered off my usual track and on to this one. I have already read a number of books on the list, so I'm working my way through the Morganville Vampires series (I had stopped at #4, so I'm re-reading that one and trying to get through the rest), and also just took the opportunity to re-read Tithe by Holly Black, which I really liked. Not sure how many I'll get through on the list I was given, but I figure between now and the end of the month, I'll keep myself busy. And then I'll probably be so tired of paranormal books that I won't read any more of them for a few months. We'll see.....

Fierce mousie.....

Years ago, at one of my office jobs, I had a co-worker who had a phrase "fierce monkey." As in, "You should have seen how upset she was --- she got all fierce monkey on me." I still use this phrase myself, once in a while, because I think it's funny.
But enough about monkeys --- this post is about 2 books I recently got from the library: Mouse Guard Fall 1152 and Mouse Guard Winter 1152. I had read about Fall 1152 and ordered it for our collection, read it, and then had to wait for Winter 1152, which took a while to be published. I originally picked up the first book, not just because it sounded interesting, but because the art is so beautiful. The mice are beautifully drawn, and are very expressive, which really gives the story depth, especially when there are panels, or even pages, with few words, if any. And these mice, as cute as they might look at times, are fierce. (and no, not in a Christian Siriano-type way, either). The adventure story here is pretty serious. The first book, Fall 1152, has three members of the Mouse Guard investigating the disappearance of a traveling grain merchant. However, all is not as simple as it might seem; along the way, they uncover a plot to attack Lockhaven, the home of the Guard (and there is also danger along the way in the form of nasty snakes and other things). In the second book, the story continues on into winter, with the Mouse Guard wading into even more dangerous territory. The plot in the second book seemed a little thinner to me at times, but the beautiful art carried along the story with no problem.

I had ordered these books for our adult graphic novel collection, although I think a younger audience would enjoy them, as well (even though there are some scary parts). It's not the usual kind of book I read, but they were a nice break from my stack of to-be-reads. If you're looking for something a little different, these might be just the trick. I know there's a third book on the way, but no idea when that'll be published.

Friday, December 4, 2009

The Devil's Alphabet by Daryl Gregory

Ok -- finished this library book this morning. I had been looking forward to reading it, ever since I read Gregory's Pandemonium --- and this was just about how I thought it would be. Interesting, thought-provoking, and a little weird. The concept of a town where there have been huge changes (and I do mean huge) is very cool, but sometimes, I wanted a little more from the characters. Sometimes, I got impatient or annoyed with the main character -- but I was always interested in what was going to happen to him, so I kept on reading. Not sure who I would recommend this to, although I will definitely put it out there as an interesting book. Gregory is an author I'd like to keep an eye on -- he has some fresh ideas, and his books aren't easy to categorize (for example, is this book fantasy? Horror? Just plain odd?), but that's fine with me.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Ash by Malindo Lo

Another pleasant surprise found in a library book. I had ordered this for our collection, based on a number of good reviews (plus, it has a cool cover). It's already gone out 5 times (counting my check-out), and now I know why.
I knew this was supposed to be a re-telling of the Cinderella story, with a few twists, but I had no idea I would be so pulled into the story. There are elements of the Cinderella story in that Ash loses her mother, father remarries a woman who is less than wonderful (and who has two daughters of her own), father dies, and Ash basically turns into her stepmother's servant. There is a prince, and a ball, and there is magic. However, this story is more complex, adding in elements of fairy magic with a serious undertone. The Wood in the story is a primary component and holds both comfort for Ash, as well as danger. There's a fairy, Sidhean, whose ethereal nature seems to barely cloak a dangerous nature underneath. As he is the one who grants her wishes, this turns into something darker than the typical fairy-godmother character (especially if you envision the Disney version of Cinderella). Then, there is the part of the story that deals with Kaisa, the king's huntress (and a pause here -- is huntress such a cool word??). Kaisa starts out as a friend, but then something changes. And that's where I'll stop with any description because any more would completely give away what happens in the story.

Ash is a strong female character, and the story has a lot of layers to it. As an adult reading this book, I found it fascinating, but I think that if I had read this when I was much younger, I would have found a lot of elements to be thought-provoking. Ash is an interesting person, made even more so to me through her interactions with both Sidhean and Kaisa. Malindo Lo really weaves a rich story here, which I found hard to put down (I mean, I was reading this while I had the Blackhawks game on, and I was concentrating more on the book, which never happens). I won't say the story was completely flawless, but it was beautifully written, and something I'm looking forward to recommending to other readers. I'll be interested to see what Lo writes next -- and will definitely look forward to having her next book in our library, too.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Nekropolis by Tim Waggoner

I just finished reading the PDF galley* of Tim Waggoner’s Nekropolis, from Angry Robot Books. I was hooked from the very first sentence: "I was sitting in Skully’s, nursing a beer that I couldn’t taste, and which I’d have to throw up later, and trying real hard to look like I was minding my own business, when the lyke walked in." I don’t know who this character is, but I already like him.

Matthew Richter isn’t your average character. He’s a completely reliable narrator, but he’s dead. He’s a zombie, to be exact, although he’s not your average zombie. No, Matt can not only move and think at the same time, but he’s also got a will of his own, making him appealing and unusual. And, he’s in an unusual setting: Nekropolis. Actually, Nekropolis is a character all by itself, a funhouse gone mad, complete with all sort of scarily-funny (and just plain scary) inhabitants.

The backbone of the story is a mystery that Matt is hired to solve by Devona, a half-vampire whose father happens to be Lord Galm, a Darklord of Nekropolis. She’s the caretaker of her father’s vast stores of magical things, and a most powerful magical item, the Dawnstone, has gone missing. Although Matt is reluctant to take on the job at first, he could do with the payment she’s offering, considering he needs more preservative spells to keep himself together (literally – to keep his body from falling apart). Working together, they not only encounter dangerous people, but dangerous places along the way. And no, I’m not telling how it ends. Read the book.

This quest/mystery is well done throughout the book and I wasn’t sure who had stolen the Dawnstone until the end of the story, which is a good thing (don’t you hate predictable endings?). But what I really enjoyed was the pure creativity and fun here. Nekropolis at times reminded me of places created by other authors (like China Mieville’s New Crobuzon), but the things it contains are in a league all their own. Right on page 8, Matt’s in a bar with a jukebox – which has three heads bolted to the top of the machine, who all sing. Then, there’s the Mind’s Eye Theatre. And the organic computers (kinda yucky, but also kinda cool). Even the cars are beautifully crafted by the author into beings unto themselves. I kept coming across things in this story that I felt were funny, and intensely creative, and incredibly enjoyable – and it seemed to me that Waggoner must have had a lot of fun writing this.

Something else I really enjoyed in this book was the character development of Matt Richter. I liked this guy right away, but as the story went on, I really felt like I got to know him. And, he would say things every so often that I felt revealed not only something about him, but also were things that I think would resonate with a lot of readers. He’s in a place where there are a lot of un-human things, but he’s the only one of his kind. He understands that other people recoil from him, especially when he’s not looking (or smelling) his best. On page 58, he even says “I knew what it was like to feel less than everyone around you.” Anyone can feel this way, no matter where they are. Matt’s a great character, and someone I think many readers can relate to.

This book was a hell of a lot of fun to read – I can’t wait to order a copy for the library so I can start pushing it to other people. And I’m treating myself to a copy, too. Extra props to the author for adding in not only a kick-ass library, but a cool librarian, as well.

*this was a galley, so any page numbers cited might be different once the final copy is published.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Under the Dome by Stephen King

I have to say, when I first picked up my hold on this from the library, I was amazed at how big it was. Not that size matters, but if I had one in each hand, I could do reps to build up my arm muscles. But, I figured I'd give it a try --- and once I started it, I had a really hard time putting it down. Reading this book in bed was a challenge, due to the sheer number of pages and the heft of the book, but that didn't stop me; I stayed up way too late a few nights just because I had to keep reading, to find out what happened next.
I never did make it through Dreamcatcher, so I didn't have high hopes for Under the Dome. However, it was a really good read. It reminded me of what I liked about King's other books, The Stand and Insomnia -- the idea that there is an average town, or what looks like an average town, with people who appear to be okay (although several have nasty, nasty secrets bubbling away underneath), and then something really horrific happens. In this story, all it takes is a dome, but it is a very effective element, and King does a wonderful job developing the story and the characters.

Definitely not a light read, but I would recommend this to readers who don't mind a hefty read. I thought it would take me much longer to get the book, but I wound up just gulping it down!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Savage Beastie Buns.....

When I'm not reading, I'm fending off two of the four wee beasties that I live with. When they are like this, they can only be placated with an offering of "bunny crack" ---- I mean, treats.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Holiday Swap

I found out about this cool swap when I was checking out another blog.....

Never done anything like this, but it sounds like fun!!

The Everafter by Amy Huntley

Brought another good read home from the library ---- and here's the blurb from the book jacket:

"Madison Stanton doesn't know where she is or how she got there. But she does know this--she is dead. And alone, in a vast, dark space. The only company she has in this place are luminescent objects that turn out to be all the things Maddy lost while she was alive. And soon she discovers that with these artifacts, she can re-experience--and sometimes even change--moments from her life."

I wasn't sure what to expect from this, but it sounded cool..... and it turned out to be a good read. I really liked how the author would have Madison move back and forth in time, and how the objects would transport her to a specific event. Madison is written consistently true to her character, and I felt the story moved smoothly. I also liked how I wasn't sure what was really happening all the time - so I kept on reading to find out.

The author has put together an interesting idea and a sympathetic character to create a story that I think will stick in readers' heads long after they finish this book. I'm looking forward to passing this one along to some of my friends.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Tear Collector by Patrick Jones

Definitely a different spin on the vampire idea. Instead of living off of people's blood, Cassandra survives by feeding off of people's pain. Being the shoulder for everyone to cry on certainly comes with some perks if you're like her. I really liked the somewhat clean, sparse writing style of the author because it really let the character's emotions come through. I also liked this idea of a vampire that feeds off of emotions, and how Cassandra felt conflicted at times about what she was. I did think the ending was a little predictable, but maybe that's just me. Overall, good book. I'll definitely be recommending this one to readers who have read their way through a lot of vampire books and are looking for something new.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Hatter M

Ok -- found something new to love...... I found mention of Volume 2 of this graphic novel, so I went looking for Volume 1. Now, I'm not only putting Volume 1 and 2 on my "to buy" list, but I'm also going to read Frank Beddor's books. As soon as I opened Volume 1, I was hooked. The art here is beautiful and the story is fascinating. I loved how there would be blurry images, conveying quick action --- and simply put, I was completely captivated by this book.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Pretty Dead by Francesca Lia Block

I just returned Pretty Dead by Francesca Lia Block -- I had ordered it for our Teen Section, and snagged it as soon as I saw it had hit the shelf...

Nutshell summary: 17 year-old Charlotte is a vampire (or "V" word) who is alone, even though she has Emily, a human friend she likes. It seems like she is leading the perfect life of being brilliant, gorgeous, and having the most wonderful clothes ... but is she happy? She was transformed into a vampire right after her brother's death, and while it seemed nice at first, the allure of being immortal (and alone) is wearing thin. However, as Charlotte starts to develop symptoms of being human (zits!), her maker shows up, forcing her to face up to something horrible from her own past.

And what did I think? Let's try a few words: Complex. Original. Poignant. Charlotte really made me consider what eternal life would be like, especially if you had all that time to consider (and reconsider again and again) all your mistakes. I thought Black's writing was very evocative of what Charlotte was feeling, and yet I never felt like it was over-dramatic. This is certainly not your typical romantic vampire teen novel -- Black really makes the reader think hard about what it can be like to live (or un-live) with difficult choices.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

Thank you thank you thank you Hachette for sending me this book!!!!

Once I started this, I found it completely addictive. I wasn?t sure what to expect when I opened it up, but then I found myself pulled into the world that the two authors created. I thought that both main characters, Ethan and Lena, were well-written, and well-rounded (no cardboard characters here, thank you very much!). It was nice to have a story like this narrated by a guy ? it seems like most of the time, things are all from a girl?s point of view, and that alone made this book refreshing. I also felt like Ethan was very realistic ? dialogue (and dialect) were on point, as was the relationship between Ethan and Lena. I didn?t have a pause at any point in the story where I felt it didn?t make sense to the characters (does that make sense?).

I also felt that the authors did a wonderful, masterful job of creating the Caster world ? what a fantastic idea! I had moments with Lena?s family that made me think of Ray Bradbury?s From the Dust Returned, with the unusual family members. However, I also felt that the authors did something that I especially like in Bradbury?s stories: crafting beautiful sentences. Beautiful Creatures had several points where I paused to read a sentence again, just to admire it.

I cannot wait to order this for our library?s collection, and have already started talking about it to a few people (and if they?re nice, I might just lend them my copy......). Put this one down on the list of another good book to push. I think it?s going to be quite popular!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Liar by Justine Larbalestier

I was lucky enough to pick up a galley of this book, and finished it a few weekends ago. I keep coming back to it, though, so I figured it would be a good start to this blog....
I don't feel like I need to summarize the book -- anyone can read that anywhere else. What has kept turning around in my mind is the STORY. I was completely caught up in this story, and how Micah, the main character would tell me something, only to recant it later. This back and forth between one truth, which then became a lie, which then turned to another truth, kept catching me off guard - and I loved it. Truth and deception became woven together into something altogether unexpected and artistic and when the truth started to reveal itself, it caught me off-guard. I didn't mind that I didn't always like Micah - I found her complex and fascinating.
And I found that more than anything else, what my mind kept tripping over after I had put the book down was the idea of lying, of making the truth into what we want it to be. And the idea that if we believe something strongly enough, we might be able to make it into a truth. Haven't we all told some lies about ourselves, whether we're telling someone else, or just lying to ourselves? I think when I was really little (like maybe 4), I told some neighbor kids that I was adopted from France -- no doubt trying to make myself seem cool. I'm not sure why I came up with this, or why I thought this would make me cool.... and I think they saw right through me. This isn't the only lie I've told in my life. I've come up with some sly little half-truths to hide things, to weave a little glamour around myself. I've even lied to myself to hide things I don't want to remember -- and sometimes, I forget these are lies (but then, it's still easier than remembering a truth). Either way, Micah and her lies, her complexities, and her truths, made this a really special read. I'm already looking forward to seeing what this author brings all of us in the future....

And here's another thought on the 2 covers, which are shown. Controversy on this has already been covered elsewhere. I think it's interesting -- if nothing else, it will draw people to finding the book. And if you find
one book, there are always more waiting.... which is a wonderful thing.
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